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Huppert takes up the fight to get tenants a fairer deal

October 22, 2010 1:47 PM
Councillor Catherine Smart

Catherine Smart

MP Julian Huppert has taken up the fight to get a fairer deal for tenants who were told by the Labour government to move out of Cambridge to find cheaper homes.

He raised the issue with Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform asking him to investigate the problems faced by tenants renting from private landlords and claiming Local Housing Allowance.

Lord Freud acknowledged that there was a problem with the system set up by the previous Labour government which sets the level of LHA in Cambridge based on average property rents taken over a wide area including cheaper locations as far afield as Littleport and Haverhill.

The system left tenants considerably out of pocket and facing the prospect of giving up their jobs and taking children out of school to try to make ends meet.

Julian's predecessor, David Howarth, began the fight to get the system changed and in March the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee reported on the issue saying: "We recommend that the department asks the Valuation Office Agency to review those areas where rents vary greatly, such as Cambridge." But no action was taken.

Julian said: "The meeting with Lord Freud was extremely positive. He acknowledged that there is a problem and it needs dealing with. He accepted that the over-heating of Cambridge is a problem, and that driving people out of Cambridge makes the problem worse, especially since there are poor transport links in much of the area.

"Families have faced real hardship because of this Labour government initiative and it needs changing as a matter of urgency. I will continue to push this issue until the Broad Market Rental Agreement, which sets the level of rents in Cambridge, is reviewed and I get a satisfactory conclusion so that these tenants can have peace of mind."

Cambridge City Executive Councillor for Housing, Catherine Smart said: "I am very pleased our MP has taken up this issue and glad he has persuaded the Minister that it needs changing.

"People looking for work need to be living in places where they can find work. "